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Brandwatch Customer Experience Report 2022

We analyzed six months' worth of consumer feedback around the world’s biggest brands to find out which sectors and companies are creating the most positive experiences.

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REPORTBrandwatch Customer Experience Report 2022

Today’s consumers reportedly spend close to seven hours a day online, which creates a great opportunity for brands to get closer to the people they’re designing customer experiences for.

With consumers of all ages posting about everything from fast food to vacations to telemedicine appointments, all that unsolicited feedback can help eliminate the disconnect between companies and their customers’ needs.

How are the best brands refining their customer experience (CX), and what can we learn from those that are keeping consumers happy enough to rave about them online?

In this report, we’ll examine:

  • The sectors generating the most positive customer experiences 
  • The dominant emotions consumers are sharing about brands in particular sectors
  • The key drivers of positive and negative customer experiences across different sectors
  • Which brands are best for CX, and what makes them great

The 14 sectors analyzed include airlines, automotive, CPG, consumer tech, energy, entertainment (music/TV), fashion, health, hotels, retail, food services (restaurants/fast food), pharma, financial services, and telecoms. 

Which sectors are generating the most positive customer experiences?

Looking at sentiment-segmented data, we found that fashion brands were generating the most positive mentions from the public.

Unsurprisingly, given the current political and social climate, sectors like pharma, energy, and airlines generated the most negative mentions in the social media discussions we studied in the second half of 2021.

This can be a helpful benchmark for those thinking about crisis management – some industries can expect higher rates of negativity than others.

Food, fashion, and entertainment generated the most positive mentions compared to negative mentions.

What are the dominant emotions consumers are expressing about brands in different sectors?

Looking at emotion-categorized mentions, we see a slightly different picture.

In the chart below, you can see how consumers expressed emotions about brands across the sectors studied between July 1 - December 31 2021.

After spending more than a year at home, consumers enjoyed engaging in low-stress activities – entertainment and shopping – and discussed their experiences on social media. Entertainment, fashion, and retail came out on top for sparking joy, with 62%, 61%, and 62% of emotion-categorized mentions, respectively, identified as joyful.

Pharma had the highest percentage of fearful mentions, followed by the energy sector, and CPG and food services had the highest proportion of disgusted mentions of all sectors we studied.

Meanwhile, consumer tech and telecoms brands saw the highest proportion of angry mentions on social (45% of emotion-categorized mentions were angry for brands in these sectors). There are no surprises here, given how much reliance we now have on our tech items and connectivity. Getting cut off from our online lives, even for a short time, can affect our mental health and livelihoods.

The airline sector came third in terms of share of angry mentions. 2021 was a rough year for the industry, as airline brands focused on retaining bookings while operating at a reduced capacity and keeping up with ever-changing safety protocols.

A reply analysis using Falcon.io into the responses of top airline brands on Twitter showed that outside of plain text, a request to direct message was the most popular type of reply from airlines in the second half of 2021. After all, moving disgruntled customers to private messaging is one way to deliver better customer service while simultaneously taking negative remarks away from the public eye.

While asking people to send a DM is a popular method in social support, it's worth pointing out the mix of responses on display above. Different airlines have different strategies for responding to customers, and it may be worth doing a competitor analysis to find out which kinds of reply prompt the most positive customer response in your particular industry.

What are the key drivers of good and bad customer experiences across different sectors?

Let’s dive into our sentiment and emotion-categorized data a little more to discover what’s driving the conversation.

You can scroll down to read through the drivers for each of the 14 sectors we studied, skip to one in the list below, or skip to the best brands for customer experience 2022.


What sparked joy? Amid multiple flight cancellations in 2021, consumers praised airlines and pilots on social media for getting them to their destination on time. This may seem like the bare minimum someone might expect from an airline service, but the praise receives points to customer appreciation that these are tough times to operate in.

Meanwhile, this tweet about American Airlines allegedly proposing to pay their pilots $274 an hour because of staff shortages went viral, sparking numerous joyful mentions. Many users jumped on the bandwagon, talking humorously about how they’d like to become a pilot and posting what they would do with the money. 

Despite the troubles facing the company last year, Southwest Airlines received virtual love and joyful mentions by playing BTS on a plane carrying the group’s fans to a BTS concert in LA. As you can imagine, BTS’s fans have a lot of social influence and can amplify positivity online.

While airlines receive a fair amount of negative mentions online, there are certainly moments of light heartedness and humor that they can leverage.

What sparked anger? COVID was the biggest driver of negativity in conversations about airline brands in the second half of 2021. Consumers discussed cancelled flights, being given contradictory information, staffing shortages, and poor customer service as a result of the pandemic. 

To give some numerical context, within conversations around the brands we studied in the airline space, more than 71k mentions related to consumers addressing customer service or customer support. Flight cancellations were mentioned over 206k times, with many consumers sharing how they didn’t get notified properly. And over 84k mentions were related to staff and staffing shortages. 

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX


What sparked joy? A lot of positive conversation was shared around Mercedes-Benz and their collaboration with the new Cinderella movie starring Billy Porter and Camila Cabello. Consumers actively support brands that embrace diversity, equality, and female empowerment, and this reimagined fairy tale story, accompanied by a custom-made glittering orange-and-gold Maybach by Mercedez-Benz, had consumers virtually clapping on social in enjoyment. 

BMW also saw a lot of positive social buzz in the latter half of 2021. Whether it was about the launch of Joytopia (the immersive world of BMW), consumers sharing sentimental messages (eg “my dad bought me a BMW as my first car”), or car influencers discussing new feature releases, BMW, together with “happy”, was mentioned over 26k times. 

Overall, joy was the most prominent emotion in posts shared about brands in the automotive sector in H2 2021.

What sparked anger? Consumers shared a lot of dissatisfaction in discussions about electric vehicles. While the idea of going green seemed to be supported by many users, consumers complained about a lack of charging stations, not having universal ports, and electric cars not being a good fit for a long journey just yet. 

In these conversations, some consumers said they’ll “go ‘green’ only when it’s viable”, and several others added they sent a newly purchased car back because they “can't charge it anywhere”. 

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX

Consumer Tech

What sparked joy? The consumer tech sector had a lot of social chatter, with games and gaming being the biggest sources of joy in tech conversations in the second half of 2021. It’s not surprising, as many people have relied on gaming for entertainment and work during the pandemic. 

There are lots of brands included in our consumer tech sector group, but these were some of the ones mentioned the most in a joyful context: Nintendo Switch, Steam, Xbox, and Roku. 

One brand for which pandemic-fuelled growth is apparent is Roku. This has also spread to its Twitter following, with Roku having seen a 11.34% increase in followers between July and December 2021. This is definitely the highest follower growth on Twitter amongst this group, though the brand is still only emerging on the platform.

What sparked anger? “Problems” was the most-mentioned word in negative tech conversations, and connectivity issues, unreliable GPS, a recent Windows update, and other new applications that drain batteries in consumer electronics were among them.

As consumers rely on their electronic devices more – be that a watch, a phone, or a smart ring – brands need to monitor these negative discussions to serve their customers better, stay ahead of the competition, and avoid potential crises.

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX


What sparked joy? Consumers reacted positively to CPG brand sponsorships, like the Super Bowl Halftime Show 2022 that was promoted all the way back in September of 2021.

We also found that people happily talked about shopping online, with mentions including “great product”, “great deal”, and “works great”, when referring to specific brands. And consumers weren’t shy about sharing their testimonials about the products they liked.

Engaging with and amplifying positive consumer feedback on social is the easiest way for brands to enhance their reputation. By saying ‘don’t just take our word for it’ and allowing consumers to sing their praises of a product, brands can provide social proof and encourage sales (across any sector). 

According to Falcon.io, CPG brands published a total of 17.7K posts using the word “repost” or accompanied by #repost on Instagram in all of 2021, so there’s plenty of this going on in the sector already.

What sparked anger? A dilemma about spending vs saving was ever present in negative discussions around the CPG sector. Consumers were quick to advise others against wasting “money” or “time and money” on a particular CPG product that didn’t live up to their expectations, often suggesting competitor brands that “can do a better job”. 

People also expressed their dissatisfaction with changes made to the products they consume regularly, like new flavors or aspects introduced by well-known beverage brands. 

As an example, Capri Sun saw a portion of negative conversation discussing the brand’s switch from plastic straws to paper. Some of those consumers complained about the design and utility, using phrases like “impossible to pierce a carton box with”, “[the straws] disintegrate in seconds”, and “paper straws are packaged in plastic”. Others threatened the company with no longer buying their products unless they make changes: “my childhood juice is ruined and Im not buying them anymore”, and “[the straws] don’t pierce the pouch so the frustration & inevitable meltdown has made me stop buying them.”

To quote Barry Schwartz in The Paradox of Choice: “One of the principal virtues of free-market choice is that it gives people the opportunity to express their displeasure by exit.” And brands need to pay close attention to how their customers are responding to product changes in real time to avoid them proceeding to “exit”.

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX


What sparked joy? Brands that chipped in and provided their support in times of crisis, such as during a major flooding event in Malaysia back in December, generated positive conversation in the second half of 2021. 

That said, celebrities who openly voiced their concerns around climate issues, like Mark Ruffalo, were also regarded with a lot of joy in social discussions so it’s not all good news for energy companies. 

Overall, while joy was a dominant emotion in conversations between July 1 - December 31 2021, the energy sector tends to get far more negative than positive mentions compared to brands in other industries.

What sparked anger? The topic of climate change was one of the biggest sources of negative comments we saw around energy brands. 

Consumers also vented about having bad experiences at gas stations, such as getting potentially watered-down gas and the pumps being made intentionally slow to force customers to watch more branded ads.

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX


What sparked joy? People spoke with joy about music and their favorite musicians, with BTS dominating many of those conversations. 

“Need more BTS in your life?” BBC Radio 1 cheerfully asked on Twitter, resulting in thousands of retweets between July 1 - December 31 2021. This speaks volumes about the power of fans and their online advocacy. 

According to Falcon’s Benchmark, @BBCr1's second most engaging tweet between July 1 - December 31 2021 was also “fan bait”. 

Consumers also discussed various music streaming platforms in a positive light in the context of new music releases, with Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and Apple Music getting the most mentions. 

Lastly, “black” was also frequently mentioned in joyful conversations around the entertainment industry, with consumers celebrating Black creators and artists. Consumers want to see more representation in the media and entertainment industries, and many companies and brands received mentions of appreciation for their diversity and inclusion efforts. 

What sparked anger? Many people voiced their discontent with media personalities who shared discriminatory views on social, calling for their removal from platforms and threatening to revoke their viewership or listenership otherwise. 

With competition growing, entertainment brands will have to work harder to amuse and satisfy their existing fans, retain their existing subscriptions, and grow the fan base beyond. Social makes it very easy to elevate and amplify great content, yet, a wrong move by “the talent” has potential to send those efforts backwards, putting brand reputation and future profits at risk.

Interestingly, Hulu had its customers complain on social about the channel’s “disrespectfully” loud commercials, with some questioning the platform’s reasoning behind it and suggesting they “cut the service” if nothing changes. By these accounts, even small elements like ad volume could have an effect on subscriber numbers.

Back to list Skip to best brands for CX


What sparked joy? We saw many influencers mentioned in positive discussions, including the K-pop stars BLACKPINK (Jisoo, Jennie, and Rosé), with Rosé becoming the first female K-pop artist to be invited to the Met Gala, and Jennie attending Paris Fashion Week as global ambassador of CHANEL. 

What sparked anger? Louis Vuitton’s Men's Fall-Winter 2021 show promo which starred the brand ambassadors BTS didn’t go unnoticed by the BTS fans who spotted six, not the full seven, group members featured in the spot. They called the company out, demanding to add the missing member to the commercial.

Customer care was also a big topic in negative conversations, with consumers describing their experience with such words as “poor”, “terrible”, “worst”, “no tracking number days later”, “no reply”, “extremely disappointed”, and “not the kind of customer care” consumers expected.

A lesson for brands to learn is best described in this tweet: “It’s been 7 days I am trying to connect with your customer care but same message plays executive is busy. Your focus should be on customer service.”

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX

Financial Services

What sparked joy? Digital wallet brands like Venmo, GCash, and PayPal received the highest percentage of positive mentions in conversations compared to other brands in our financial services group. Some people discussed projects they worked on and mentioned that they accept digital payments, while others mentioned these brands in conversations about raising funds and accepting donations. 

These brands also use their social media channels to provide prompt customer service. PayPal, for instance, has a dedicated Twitter handle (@AskPayPal) to provide support to its users. It's critical for brands in the financial services industry to have a low average reply time (ART), and PayPal seems to be getting there. The brand’s ART in the second half of 2021 was 7 hrs, 19 mins, 25 secs.

If brands want to delight their time-poor customers, bringing average response time down should be a goal.

Lastly, consumers supported those brands in the finance sector who contributed to a good cause, such as helping narrow opportunity gaps faced by women and women of color in particular. Initiatives in this area should be considered alongside faster response times if financial services brands want to improve their reputation.

What sparked anger? The growing number of digital payment options in recent years might deliver more convenience to consumers, but it can also pose additional security risks. Consumers on social talked negatively about scam bots that clone users’ profiles and hijacking transactions that came through – all done quickly and not traced. 

Customer care was (yet again) a big topic in negative discussions, especially around the insurance and bank subgroups. Consumers angrily discussed not being able to get any customer service, using words like “impossible” to find or contact, “wasted hours”, “unresponsive support”, and “scam.”

High service fees received a lot of criticism on social, while the seemingly unjustified suspension of accounts also saw negative comments.

Back to listSkip to best brands for CX

Food Services

What sparked joy? The food services sector generated a lot of positive conversation between July 1 - December 31 2021. Within those conversations, we found influencers and celebrities popping up a lot, with Lil Nas X being named as Taco Bell’s chief impact officer, and Chick-Fil-A naming a drink in honor of NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Consumers also expressed joy when discussing the news about the brands who aligned with their views on political or social issues. 

Consumers are paying close attention to the brands they are buying and, thus, supporting financially. Global brands need to stay market-sensitive and closely monitor changing sentiment around issues their business has an impact on.

What sparked anger? Food delivery services generated many negative mentions. Consumers expressed their support for delivery workers amid rising issues surrounding their working conditions. Many consumers also voiced their concerns around the transparency of transactions placed via food delivery apps. 

Poor customer service and wrong or missing items were also present in discussions about food service brands as consumers vented on social when deliveries weren’t up to scratch. 

Connected and empowered, consumers put more pressure on businesses to deliver on promises. When their expectations aren’t met, they often don’t hesitate to take to social media to increase awareness around the issues and make their demands. 

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX


What sparked joy? We saw many consumers discuss mental health, wellness, and “feeling good” in positive conversations around the health sector in the second half of 2021. People were grateful for their health and the health of their loved ones, and they also praised any brand partnerships aiming to improve mental health and wellness, such as ‘TUNE H‘, a collaboration between a Korean boy band Seventeen and global health service company Cigna.

A word cloud representing nearly 60k tweets that come from popular brands around mental health and wellness shows that there is a focus on managing stress, anxiety, and depression, and generally creating more awareness around mental health.

Last September, we published our analysis of consumer discussions around the Summer Games 2021, and mental health turned out to be the second most mentioned topic in discussions. Influenced by Simone Biles’ withdrawal – and citing mental health concerns as the reason – the topic of mental health drove 18% of all online conversation around the Games. We found that brands which supported prioritizing mental health in this context were praised on social media.

What sparked anger? Usually, brands in the health sector tend to get more negative comments than those in other sectors. Key negative themes in conversations between July 1 - December 31 2021 have remained pretty much the same since 2020: people complained about inadequate health insurance coverage, deductibles and copays, and unexpected out-of-pocket costs.

Among other topics, consumers also criticized insurance provider companies who haven’t covered COVID-19 testing during the pandemic. 

Lastly, many people expressed their disbelief at the lack of access to mental health care services through their insurance, often tagging or naming associated health insurance brands in their complaints on social.

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX


What sparked joy? Within positive hotel conversations in the second half of 2021 we found travel influencers documenting their hotel experiences, often naming the hotel brands they were happy with and praising individual employees on social who went above and beyond while accommodating their stay.

Various rewards and points programs also generated a lot of joyful conversation, with many consumers expressing their gratitude and love for the Marriott brand specifically. 

What sparked anger? It goes without saying that the hotel and hospitality industries have had many issues throughout the pandemic, and unmet consumer expectations were the biggest driver in negative conversations around the sector. 

As hotel brands scrambled to stay afloat, many had to downsize their employee counts, thus significantly reducing capacity for high quality and attentive service. Hotel rooms not getting cleaned frequently enough or a lack of front desk staff were frequently mentioned in negative conversations. 

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX


What sparked joy? While sadness was a dominant emotion in pharma conversations given the ongoing pandemic worldwide, there were a few topics that sparked joy. In positive conversations, people talked about getting fully vaccinated or getting vaccinated for the first time, while expressing hope around vaccines and their lives going forward.

COVID-19 had a huge impact on conversations around pharma brands, and was a key topic in both positive and negative conversations.

What sparked anger? “Side effects”, “supply”, and “vaccine rollouts” came up a lot in negative discussions around pharma brands. Within those conversations, people frequently shared their experiences and their version of events related to COVID and vaccines. 

Back to list Skip to best brands for CX


What sparked joy? We found that gifts and decor sparked a lot of joyful conversation as many consumers sought to surround themselves and their loved ones with beautiful things. Among the topics in positive conversations around the retail industry we saw mentions of “custom” gifts, “hand painted”, “handmade”, “wall art”, “custom color”, “gift box”, “original art”, “vintage”, “mug print”, and Etsy discussed by many consumers.

Books remained in positive conversations throughout 2021, as reading continues to be one of the most popular hobbies that emerged during the pandemic. According to Statista, 2021 saw higher print book sales figures in the US when compared to the previous years, and the daily time spent reading increased among most consumers in the US between 2019 and 2020. 

What sparked anger? Convenience has been a key determinant of success in most industries, especially the retail sector. And that’s why discovering that a big retailer doesn’t support the payment method option of your choice sent consumers raging about it on social pages. 

Other topics in negative discussions around the retail industry included “hostile” employees’ attitudes, worker shortages – especially in places where consumers go for essentials, like pharmacies – and being “always out of stock”.

Today’s consumers often feel responsible to hold brands “accountable” for their missteps, and they use social media platforms to get their voices heard. 

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What sparked joy? Brand partnerships with influencers around social issues received many joyful mentions, such as collaborations with Olympic athletes to support minorities and underrepresented groups.

Consumers also thanked telecom brands for sponsoring events, concerts, and bringing popular celebrities on stage.

What sparked anger? It’s important to note that, in general, the telecom industry generates a high proportion of negative mentions compared to other sectors we study. 

Among others, some of the key topics in negative discussions included unstable internet connection – making it difficult for those who work from home – and poor customer service or time spent resolving issues.

This tweet offered food for thought for brands, with a user commenting on their attempt to get through to customer service: “How much longer are they going to blame Covid for this shift from a customer focused service”. 

Back to list | Skip to best brands for CX 

Which brands are best for CX as we head into 2022?

To determine which brands are doing best for CX, we found the brands which had at least 200k mentions that were categorized as joyful in the second half of 2021. We then worked out which of these had the highest percentage of joyful conversation compared to other emotions expressed by consumers.


Title Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)

Coming in third place is YSL, a fashion luxury brand who made headlines last year upon its successful return to Paris Fashion Week after skipping 2020 due to the pandemic.

Many joyful mentions gathered around the brand involved BLACKPINK’s Rosé, who is a global brand ambassador. 

Last year, Rosé first broke the internet by sharing a photo of herself on Instagram dressed in clothes from YSL’s Summer 2021 women’s collection – a photo that generated significant engagement for the brand, contributing to its year-to-date growth rate of 158 percent. 

And in September 2021 Rosé graced the red carpet of the Met Gala as the first female K-pop artist, while wearing a chic dress from the latest YSL collection. 

YSL celebrity partnerships in 2021 also included Zoë Kravitz, Hailey Bieber, Indya Moore, and other popular artists.  

Note: While YSL’s Facebook and Twitter followings only saw an average increase — 0.4% and 0.93% respectively — the brand’s Instagram follower count shot up by 8.76% in the last six months of 2021.


Title Music - Amazon Music

Second on our best brands for CX list is Amazon Music. The platform generated massive amounts of positivity throughout the second half of 2021, with over 89% of emotion-categorized mentions listed as joyful. 

Korean pop culture also had a huge impact on the entertainment sector last year, with BTS featured heavily in posts and news articles relating to Amazon Music with new music releases such as “Butter” and “Permission to dance”. The group also did an exclusive livestream on the platform in July, while promoting their music and celebrating their eighth anniversary. A tweet by Amazon Music promoting the livestream generated close to 400k likes and over 80k retweets, making it the brand’s most engaging tweet in the time period analyzed.


Title Etsy

For several years in a row, Etsy tops our list as the best brand for customer experience. In the second half of last year, the brand generated a lot of positive conversation – in fact, close to 93% of emotion-categorized mentions related to the brand were joyful!

What makes Etsy different, and how’s it done so well? Here are just a few reasons.

Overall, a shift in consumer behavior to shopping online has played in Etsy’s favor. Since the start of the pandemic, not only people have spent more time online browsing and shopping, they also spent more time at home. As a result, the home improvement topic saw a substantial increase in interest as consumers sought to beautify and transform their living and working spaces. 

As we described earlier in the report, we found that gifts and decor sparked a lot of joy in conversations mentioning Etsy, with consumers discussing “original”, “handmade”, and “custom” options. This is what Etsy is all about, as it’s focused on promoting smaller artists and their unique craft. We saw hashtags like #shopsmall and #smallbusiness used in joyful conversations. 

The 2021 holiday season also gave Etsy a major push as consumers looked for gift ideas and one-of-a-kind gifts. 

Lastly, Etsy has a review system in place, and sellers are encouraged to go above and beyond for their customers to gain badges like ‘Etsy Star Seller’, which gives sellers more leverage and credibility. This is clearly doing wonders, since so much joy is generated online. 

All these reasons together mean Etsy was able to generate a lot of positive consumer feedback online (which they subsequently get permission to repost across their social channels), topping our list as the best brand for customer experience. 

Key lessons

Consumers use social media as a platform to elevate brands they like and align with and to amplify their dissatisfaction when their expectations aren’t met. 

Especially as consumers are spending more time online, online advocacy is everything. Brands who have yet to adopt a customer-first, digital-first mindset could be putting their reputation and future profits at risk. Improving customer experience should be priority number one for brands in every sector in 2022. 

One of the best ways to improve is to monitor and learn from real-time information available on social, and being agile in terms of putting those learnings into action. 

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